Thursday, October 13, 2011

may history teach me, as I write it

In the last 30-some odd hours, I've been taken back 20 years to Oct. 16, 1991, the day of the Luby's massacre.

It was some sort of fate that forced our October 1991 book to open to Oct. 17, 1991 when I cracked it open in our library Wednesday. Story after story after story lined the archaic pages for days, months after chronicling the day's events, the press conferences, the release of the victim's names, the final number of those dead and wounded, the autopsy report of the shooter, the 9-1-1 calls and dispatch communications.

"We're going to need a lot of help," one officer said through his communication device.

Our photo editor brought me a small urn-like box today. "Luby's negatives and prints," was scrawled on the side in permanent marker.

Dozens of pictures, carefully labeled on the back, were in the box and despite the whirlwind of newsroomness swirling around me, it was all shut out as I sifted through the photos. The truck crashed through the window in the dining room, bullet holes in the windows, police officers guarding the door, ambulances, victims being loaded into Army helicopters that landed on the frontage road, an officer tending to a victim and then three frames later covering the man's face with the white cloth draped over his body, an officer carrying a stack of body bags into the building, victims being treated, Luby's employees talking to police, people hugging, crying, a survivor who's parents were shot and killed hugging other victim's family all captured the story of loss and mayhem.

These are moments that stand still for me.

They are also moments that put into perspective the importance of my role as a journalist. It's easy to preach that we are history's record keepers, but until you're immersed in newspapers and photos 20 years old, you don't actually get it.

Today's news is tomorrow's history. How am I doing at preserving it?


randyalan said...

You're doing very well at preserving it Holly.

Sam said...

I was just made aware of the date. Having just left the Luby's building when he came through I returned to assist all day and into the night. It was a big growing up moment for a 22 year old going to flight school in Killeen. I was also a medic in the Air Force Reserves but after the initial wounded were removed the hard part was helping the families arriving on the scene to find love ones. I believe the currents of those memories have been quietly present throughout the years. I've gained a whole new appreciation for all of life because of that. I hope peace for the families of the victims. Kevin.